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Meaning of Homeland Security

By Bob - Posted on 17 September 2018

According to Kahan and Reese there has been a wider discussion and debates for over a decade on the meaning of homeland security. Notwithstanding its importance in the US, there lacks agreed definition of homeland security necessary for developing curricula, conducting research, or making policies. Reese noted that the varied definitions and missions of the homeland security may make it difficult for a coherent national homeland security strategy development, which may hamper the congressional oversight effectiveness. In this line, the author further noted that definitions and missions are crucial in the development of any strategy.

The currently known homeland security did not appear until after 9/11 when the US experienced the unprecedented terrorist attacks on its soil. In its Strategic Plan of fiscal years 2000-2013, the US Department of homeland security defined the homeland security as a unified national effort to deter and prevent terrorist attacks, secure national borders, and protect and respond to hazards. The White House’ National Security Strategy of 2010 defined homeland security as a seamless coordination among the US states and local governments in the prevention, protection against and response to threats and national disasters. The Department of Homeland Security’s 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review and 2012 Strategic plan defined homeland security as dedicated national efforts to ensuring a homeland that is safe and secure as well as resilient against terrorist attacks and other calamities.

Drawing from these definitions, this paper defines homeland security as a federal agency mandated with the responsibility of protecting the US against threats with wide-ranging duties that include cyber security, border control, aviation security, terrorism deterrence, and emergency response.

Main Priority and Initiative of Homeland Security

The above definition covers the main functions of the Homeland Security.

Prevent Terrorism and Enhance Security

Preventing and protecting the American citizens from the terrorist threats is the Homeland Security’s founding principle and its highest priority. The initiatives it takes include preventing terrorist attacks; reducing the vulnerability of critical resources and infrastructure, essential leadership, and other events to terrorist attacks; and preventing the unauthorized acquisition, movement, importation, or use of radiological, biological, chemical, and nuclear materials within the US.

Secure and Manage the Borders

The Homeland Security secures the US land, air and sea borders to deter illegal activities while facilitating lawful trade and travel. It achieves this goal by effectively securing the US land, air and sea entry points; disrupting and dismantling transnational terrorist and criminal organizations; and safeguarding and streamlining lawful trade and travel.

Enforce and Administer Immigration Laws

The agency focuses on enforcing and administering the US immigration laws and streamlining a legal immigration process. It achieves this mission by reforming immigration laws, focusing on the identification and deportation of alien criminals who are a threat to the public safety (US Department of Homeland Security, 2016).

Safeguard and Secure Cyberspace

The Homeland Security is the lead for the government in securing government computer systems, and works in collaboration with state, territorial and local governments to secure critical infrastructure as well as information systems. It achieves this by analyzing and reducing threats and vulnerabilities; distributing threat warnings; and coordinating the response to cyber incidents (US Department of Homeland Security, 2016).

Ensure Resilience to Disasters

The agency offers coordinated and comprehensive federal response in events of natural disasters. Large-scale emergencies, and terrorist attacks while involving other stakeholders to ensure swift as well as an effective recovery effort. Its initiatives include bolstering information sharing and collaboration; facilitating rebuilding and recovery; and providing grants, plans and training law enforcement partners (US Department of Homeland Security, 2016).

Effects of Homeland Security’s Priorities on the US

By carrying out the above function in an efficient manner, Homeland Security has enabled the US to withstand and deter the 21st threats such as terrorist attacks and other calamities. Besides, it keeps it prepared and ready for emergencies and strong response and recovery capacities.


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